SC sets up committee to examine Pegasus allegations
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Cybersecurity
Context The SC has stressed that the power of the state to snoop in the name of national security into the “sacred private space” of individuals is not absolute.
- Thus, it has appointed an expert technical committee overseen by former Supreme Court judge R.V. Raveendran to examine allegations that the Centre used Israeli software Pegasus to spy on citizens.
- The court has also said that in a democratic country governed by the rule of law, indiscriminate spying cannot be allowed except with sufficient statutory safeguards.
- The use of technology for surveillance by the state must be evidence-based.
What is Pegasus?
- It is a spyware tool developed by an Israeli firm, the NSO Group.
- Spyware spies on people through their phones.
- Pegasus works by sending an exploit link, and if the target user clicks on the link, the malware or the code that allows the surveillance is installed on the user’s phone.
- Once Pegasus is installed, the attacker has complete access to the target user’s phone.
What can Pegasus do?
- Pegasus can “send back the target’s private data, including passwords, contact lists, calendar events, text messages, and live voice calls from popular mobile messaging apps”.
- The target’s phone camera and microphone can be turned on to capture all activity in the phone’s vicinity, expanding the scope of the surveillance.